By Dave Andrusko
Editor’s note. This appears on page one of the July issue of National Right to Life News. Please share this story, and the entire contents of this 51-page edition with your pro-life family and friends.
Editor’s note. The 50th National Right to Life Convention took place June 25 and June 26 in Herndon, Virginia. The annual convention had been cancelled in 2020 because of Covid-19, so you can imagine how intense the desire was to make sure this did not happen a second consecutive year. The following interview took place last week with Jacki Ragan, the Convention Director.
NRL News: When did you finally make the decision to go forward and what went into that decision?
Jacki Ragan: The time was just right. If we had decided not to go forward, I felt there was a chance we would never have the 50th convention. So with many, many unknowns, we decided to take the chance. I am happy to say that the very first day we made the announcement, people registered. Not many that first day, but enough to fuel the fire and get excited that the right decision had been made. We never looked back.
NRL News: As we wrote in NRL News Today, the attendance was larger than you would’ve expected, given how late the go-ahead decision had to be made, and the enthusiasm level was very high. To what do you attribute that?
Jacki Ragan: People were ready. I was mildly concerned about a few things, not a single one of which turned out to an issue. People were ready to get together and we did. We had almost twice the attendance we had thought we would get. People were upbeat, hugs were plentiful, and, as the late Dr. Jean Garton often said, “The National Right to Life Convention is the family reunion for the pro-life movement.”
NRL News: This was second time NRL decided to have a two-day convention rather than three day. Every NRL Convention has a chemistry of its own. Was that altered by compressing the schedule and, if so, how?
Jacki Ragan: It has not altered the chemistry of the convention and while every minute has something in it, I find the convention goers enjoy that and several even remarked, “We can sleep when we get home.” My kind of pro-lifers!
NRL News: As someone whose job includes talking to attendees, it was clear to me that the General Sessions, the Opening Prayer Breakfast, and the closing Banquet were exceptionally well received. The convention asks people to respond by filling out a evaluation form. Did those forms back that impression up?
Jacki Ragan: The forms did back up that the General Sessions were exciting and both the Prayer Breakfast and Banquet were sold out days before the event. We had packed rooms for workshops, for the General Sessions and for every event hosted by NRLC 2021. I always take a look into the rooms about midway during any/all sessions to see. For the General Sessions there was standing room only, every seat was filled the Prayer Breakfast, and Banquet, and attendance at the workshops showed the same commitment. The evaluation forms say that far better than I can.
NRL News. Every year we ask you what is your “takeaway.” What will you remember most about the 50th National Right to Life convention?
Jacki Ragan: In many ways, even though it was the 50th, it was the first. The first time in months that folks had ventured out, flown on an airplane, driving across country, stayed in a hotel, been in group settings. And the attendees loved it. We were a family coming together again.
There were MANY new faces that we have been talking to for months via email and phone, but NRLC 2021 offered the opportunity to meet in person and get to know each other. It was as close to perfect as any event can be.
We are excited to ask you today to Hold/Save the Date for NRLC 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia – June 24, 25, 2022! Watch the NRLC website for coming details: www.nrlconvention.com Also, you can purchase any sessions for downloading that you may have missed during NRLC 2021. And there are some great ones!
Finally, thanks to all those who joined us in the Commonwealth to make the 50th conventions the success that it was. You are the beating heart of every convention, and you are the ones making the difference out on behalf unborn babies and their mothers.